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Infineon and XAIN to collaborate on bringing blockchain into the car

Infineon Technologies AG and XAIN (earlier post) have agreed to work together on bringing blockchain technology into the car. The goal of the collaboration is to test possible applications and develop suitable ones to market maturity. A first demonstrator shows how access rights, e.g. for car sharing, can be granted decentrally with a smartphone app.

Cybersecurity is crucial for the data-driven mobility of the future. Blockchain technology has enormous potential in this regard, but its use requires a high degree of coordination between the selected blockchain methodology and the security hardware installed in the car itself. We will be working together with XAIN to achieve this level of configuration.

—Peter Schiefer, President of Infineon’s Automotive Division

A blockchain is a decentralized database that enables speedy transactions and particularly secure, tamper-free storage. In connection with cars, feasible applications for this technology include automated payments, keyless access for car sharing schemes, on-demand services, tuning protection and automated driving functions. Essentially, it is all about the granting of access rights—to the car itself or to specific data in the vehicle. An example involving specific data is when insurance companies offer low rates for car owners with good driving habits.

All of Infineon’s second-generation AURIX microcontrollers can provide support for blockchain functionality in cars already today. This support is based on an embedded hardware security module (HSM) that complies with the highest level of the EVITA security standard.

An HSM consists of special computing and storage units within the microcontroller. It performs the cryptographic operations and is protected by a dedicated firewall of its own. The second-generation AURIX microcontrollers thus have a secured memory for the digital key used for identification in the blockchain and are able to perform blockchain operations, such as hashing or digital signing, swiftly and securely. Certified security controllers such as the OPTIGA TPM 2.0 from Infineon for automotive applications allow even higher security levels to be reached.

However, the creation of new data blocks still represents a challenge for the conventional microcontrollers used in cars. Due to the enormous amounts of required computing power, mining as used in the context of cryptocurrencies up to this point in time has been executed by high-performance processors. XAIN, however, is working on a new process that can also be performed on devices that need to be economical in their use of energy, such as microcontrollers in cars.

We aim to turn cars into fully-fledged network participants. As well as being important for offline and real-time capabilities, this also enables a particularly high level of privacy protection in connection with AI technologies. It ensures that private data for machine learning is kept exclusively in local storage. The goal of our collaboration with Infineon is to advance the use of XAIN’s AI technology in cars.

—Leif-Nissen Lundbæk, founder and CEO of XAIN AG

In February, Porsche announced its collaboration with XAIN in testing blockchain applications directly in vehicles—making Porsche the first automobile manufacturer to implement and successfully test blockchain in a car.

At the Infineon Automotive Cybersecurity Forum, Infineon and XAIN presented their first demonstrator. It shows how access rights can be granted decentrally, swiftly and securely by means of a smartphone app. An application for this would be a car sharing scheme without a platform or back-office in which all participants are able to spontaneously share their cars with others.

XAIN began as a University of Oxford research project in 2014. The goal of this project was to develop a protocol that would allow humans and machines to collaborate with distributed, energy-efficient, and privacy-protecting intelligent systems. In cooperation with a large number of OEMs and global players—such as Porsche, Daimler and SAP—XAIN is striving to implement its vision with a range of AI products.

Applications include the automatic granting of access rights in machines (including production machines and vehicles) and the automation of internal processes by means of a software development kit instead of a cloud platform to enable the best possible privacy protection. In addition, XAIN has created a programming language called FROST for the development of distributed and secure access rights, known as smart policies. These policies can also be directly embedded in hardware—in AURIX microcontrollers, for example.

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